Industrial Robotics

Robotics in Manufacturing – Production Figures

The use of robotics by OEMs is set to increase owing to the demand for increased production, quality products, and low-cost channels. Although the automotive industry is leading in the adoption of robotics for production, OEMs in other sectors such as food, metal machining, and semiconductors and electronics are increasing their use of the technology.

OEMs Production Using Robotics

  • The use of robotics allows OEMs to increase the capacity of production. For example, Fusion OEM, which specializes in part machining, incorporated the use of robots in its production processes and consequently doubled its production capacity. The automated setup also reduced production costs by four times compared to manual operations.
  • According to BCG, the use of advanced robotics can reduce production costs by 15%. These cost saves can be increased by 40% if other technologies, lean processes, and structural layout are incorporated. 80% of U.S. companies plan to invest in advanced robotics in the next three years.
  • The key trends driving the adoption of robotics by OEMs are the scarcity of qualified and available labor as well as the demand for increased throughput.
  • The rate of adoption of robotics (88%) in production among OEMs has exceeded the 2014 industry forecast (82%). By the close of 2019, 90% of OEMs were expected to be using robotics in their production processes with a 100% adoption anticipated within the next 5 years.
  • The number of industrial robotic shipments to the U.S. by OEMs increased by 15% in 2018 from 2017 figures to hit 28,478 units. Although the largest share went to the automotive industry (53%), other industries (47%) are catching up quickly.
  • According to IMS Supply, most OEMs use modular or linear production lines serviced by single-purpose machines. With the changing market requirements, there is a need for flexible/agile production lines that reduce labor and maximize automation. For instance, GM’s Orion factory relies on robotics to produce three distinctive types of vehicles using a flexible production line.
  • The use of optimized software applications such as the FANUC’s Zero Down Time (ZDT) application, increases the performance of robotic production lines. Speaking to Barron’s, Cathy Powell, a Fanuc America spokeswoman, stated that the 21,000 robots supported by the ZDT application saved manufacturers 2,418 hours of production which is equivalent to over $72 million in cost saves.
  • The Return On Investment (ROI) associated with the adoption of robotics by OEMs in production is commonly associated with reduced labor costs, increased throughput, the total cost of ownership, improved quality/reduced waste, and decreased worker injuries. Although realizing ROI is expected within 2 years, most companies achieve this within 1 year.

Robotics in Manufacturing – Industrial Applications

The use of robotics in industrial applications is growing and evolving at a rapid pace, as the new technologies and ever new demands of industry are constantly progressing and changing. With these changing demands and newly developed technologies, robotics OEM’s have adapted and shifted the focus of robotic applications in industry beyond the usual palletizing and case packing. Robots in industry and manufacturing have become much more mobile instead of fixed, are able to accomplish much more precise and intensive tasks, can complete an ever wider range and variety of duties, (greater sensing and processing of information and environment), and even working safely alongside, and collaborating with people.

Applications of Robotics in Industry

  • The industrial robot market in North and South America was estimated to be $3.5 billion in 2017, with more than 70% of those sales belonging to the US alone. The automotive industry was the largest portion of the market at 34.2%, and food and beverage and personal care industries had 13% of the total. In 2018, industrial robot sales increased by 15%.
  • Equipped with more advanced sensors, and being much easier to program, robots have been able to take on more precise and demanding tasks. These robots can make highly specific and individualized products for manufactures who need it, and allow much more flexibility in production.
  • The ever-changing demands of industry have caused robots in manufacturing to evolve to take on more variety of tasks than ever before. Jobs such as small parts assembly, application of adhesives and similar material, measuring and testing and inspection, packaging and picking, and even disassembly, among others, are becoming commonplace.
  • Instead of stationary machines, robots in industry and manufacturing have become mobile and versatile, with experts believing mobile robotics to overtake the industrial robotics market in 2022. These mobile robots are designed to move dynamically themselves throughout warehouse and manufacturing environments, learning as they go, being very versatile in their handling of products and materials.
  • With sensing and processing advancing each day, artificial is intelligence on the horizon. With such autonomous action being applied to the manufacturing industry, an entire warehouse can be a “smart warehouse,” where all the robots are monitored and controlled with the most efficient logistics.
  • This advanced sensing and progress in AI have allowed robots in industry and manufacturing to become much safer for employees to work around, while also being able to perform the more dangerous tasks, further increasing safety. They are able to sense the slightest movements and respond accordingly, allowing for collaborative robots to be designed, that work in tandem and in partnership with the employees.
  • Able to withstand more demanding circumstances such as heat, pressure, and weight, the lubrication required for the upkeep of these industrial robotics has also evolved and changed. Advances in lubrication have allowed less down time of machines, increasing production, saving money on repairs, and have increased safety by lessening the human interaction needed with these materials.

Robotics in Manufacturing – United States Market Size

The market size of the industrial robotics manufacturing market in the US was estimated to be $1.64 billion in 2018.


  • The market size of the US industrial robotics market was $2.15 billion in 2018. However, by neglecting imported robots, the market size of industrial robots manufactured in the US was estimated to be $1.64 billion in 2018.
  • According to a 2014 report by the United States International Trade Commission, “most US facilities that produce industrial robots are owned by European and Japanese firms that have invested in the United States to obtain a manufacturing presence close to their automotive customer base.”
  • A 2019 report provides that the US industrial robotics market comprises import and export sales, indicating that some robot units are not manufactured in the country.
  • OEMs in the automotive industry use industrial robotics the most in the US, to weld and paint cars.
  • However, other industries in the country are also adopting industrial robotics and automation in their production facilities. Robots that place stocks or shelves pick out order items, package, and transport goods from docks to shipping areas are being utilized in warehouses.
  • They are also employed at semiconductor plants and for other applications in assembly, gluing, cutting, grinding, and other routine tasks.
  • Advanced OEMs are leveraging industrial robots to take on more automated initiatives and generate more efficient production through “through shorter lead times, safer and more efficient operations, higher-quality products, and overall reduced costs.”


We obtained from a report by Miller Fabrication Solutions that robotics manufacturing specifically focused on OEMs, represents the industrial robotics market. As such, we sought to establish the manufacturing market size of the same in the US. We established the market size for the sales of industrial robots manufactured in the US and have assumed it to represent the size of the robotics manufacturing market in the US, specifically focused on OEMs. All calculations and assumptions are detailed below.


  • The size of the global industrial robotics market in 2018 was $16.5 billion at 422,000 units shipped.
  • The industrial robotics market in the US rose to 55,000 units sold in 2018 with a market share of [55,000 units / 422,000 units] x 100% = 13.03%
  • Using the market share of 13.03%, the US industrial robotics market size = (13.03 / 100) x $16.5 billion = $2.15 billion.
  • However, $291 million worth of industrial robots were imported into the US in 2016, and 31,404 units were sold.
  • To provide the 2018 value of imported industrial robots into the US, we used the value proportion in 2016 to obtain that for 2018, neglecting any growth or decline within that timeframe, and assuming them to be minimal.
  • Thus, the 2018 value of industrial robots into the US = [(2018 units x 2016 imports) / 2016 units] = [(55,000 units x $291 million) / 31,404 units] = $509.65 million.
  • To obtain the value of non-imported sales (manufactured industrial robots) in the US, we subtracted the estimated import value of industrial robots from the total sales in the country.
  • As such, the 2018 industrial robotics manufacturing market size in the US = $2.15 billion -$509.65 million = $1.640.35, which is approximately $1.64 billion.

Robotics in Manufacturing – United States Market Growth

The number of OEM robotics installations in the United States contracted by 26% in 2018; however, in the first half of 2019, the North American robotics market witnessed an 83% growth in order volume.

Growth in OEM Robotics (United States)

  • The unit installations of OEM (car manufacturers) robots degrew by 26% in the United States in 2018; overall, robot installations in the United States grew by 22% in 2018 to 40,373 units (IFR).
  • The automotive sector comprises OEM manufacturers and parts manufacturers. Two-thirds of the robot installations can be attributed to parts manufacturing. Automotive parts manufacturing grew at 9% in 2018 (IFR).
  • The automotive robotics industry grew at 7% CAGR in the period 2013-18. However, robots unit sales decreased from a high of 16,311 units in 2016, to 15,400 units in 2017, and 14,600 units in 2018 (IFR).
  • Automotive robots accounted for only 38% of all installations in 2018. Robot density in the automotive industry is 1,200 units per 10,000 employees (IFR).

Growth in OEM Robotics (North America)

  • While the sales of automotive robots in North America decreased in 2018, Q1 2019 and H1 2019 saw a 41% increase and an 83% increase in automotive OEM robot order volume, respectively (RIA).

Additional Information

  • Klübersynth GEM 4-150N is the most widely used lubricant in the automotive robotics industry. We attempted to find its sales volume in the United States but were unable to.

Research Strategy

While the OEM market comprises industries other than automobile, based on industry references, the OEM robotics market is understood to mean robotics for car manufacturing. Data published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) and Robotic Industries Association (RIA) have been provided.

Robotics in Manufacturing – Drivers of Growth

Research shows that the industrial robotics market size will grow from USD 48.7 billion in 2019 to USD 75.6 billion by 2024. The drivers of growth in the Robotics manufacturing market in the U.S. are; technological advancements and decreasing costs of manufacturing, shortage of labor and increase in manufacturing requirements and the penetration of collaborative robots. According to different experts robots are currently lucrative for OEMs due to low costs of production and production efficiency.

Technological advancements and decreasing costs of manufacturing

  • Decreasing costs of manufacturing reduce the prices of robots(prices have reduced by 50% since 1990) in the market and encourage automation in various industries.
  • Technological advancements improve automation and bring in diversification according to consumer needs at low costs.
  • Technology and decreasing manufacturing costs make industrial robots affordable to small scale businesses, which grows the market and demand.
  • According to Robert D. Atkinson, president and founder of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, with technological advancements, including the integration of artificial intelligence and other improvements, such as better sensors, there is a promising future in the next decade.

Shortage of labor and an increase in manufacturing requirements

  • The need for growth in production for most companies forces them to opt for cheaper and quality labor.
  • Companies are trying to be competitive and while trying to adhere to manufacturing requirements are forced to go for automation.
  • Quoting Jeff Burnstein, president of the Association for Advancing Automation, “Robot use continues to grow, which is helping make U.S. companies more competitive and leading to new job growth.”
  • According to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the North American automation market has grown with the need for higher quality products at faster speeds with lower costs. Application of intelligence software and hardware is their current strategy of surviving this competitive landscape.

The Inception of Collaborative robots

  • In North America, the collaborative robot market is expected to grow to $1.745 billion by 2025 due to its advantages of increasing flexibility, efficiency in production and reduced cost of operation.
  • Demand for cobots is also due to their ability to work and assist in different manufacturing settings with humans keeping manufacturers competitive
  • The cobots are also becoming more affordable for small scale manufacturers and with safety in mind are easy to operate for novice users.
  • According to James W. Lawton, Chief Operating Officer of Rethink Robotics GmbH, Collaborative robots are going to change the manufacturing process of firms, especially with advances in technology, artificial intelligence, the revolution of big data. There will be new ways of working and production.
  • The growth in the industry has been majorly on automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with an 83% increase in units ordered followed by semiconductors and electronics, life sciences and food, and consumer goods.
  • According to research, growth in industrial robotics, primarily the use of cobots in semiconductors and electronics OEMs, will increase significantly, which becomes an investment target.

Robotics in Manufacturing – Insights and Trends

The robotics manufacturing market continues to change and evolve with changing needs and technological advances. The United States has seen multiple trends in robotics manufacturing, which involves original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Advanced robotics that assist in productivity are expected to drive overall logistics and production throughout the robotics industry in the future. Three of these advanced robotics trends are discrete event simulation, autonomous production processes, and the improvement in the user interface to make robots “teachable”.

Discrete Event Simulation

  • Discrete event simulation/production is an emerging trend in advanced robotics. This technology uses advanced robotics to identify production problems, mitigate risk, balance scheduling and production, and optimize production operations.
  • Discrete event simulation and production allows OEMs to identify potential bottlenecks in their production, which may have been missed in human inspection. This technology is identified as a future trend, as it improves production efficiency while reducing human error.
  • Discrete event simulation technology is expected to continue evolving in the future, continuing to expand the use of these symptoms to meet the needs of manufacturers. This technology will need to facilitate communication and maintenance processes, and continuous improvement is needed to keep up with these demands.
  • Expert scholars Adrian Kampa, Grzegorz Golda, and Iwona Paprocka discussed the cause of most manufacturing workplace accidents and injuries as results of human error/interference. These experts noted the technology of discrete event simulation will continue to evolve in the future, in part due to the technologies’ ability to identify and prevent hazards while enhancing safe, non-human production methods.

Autonomous Production Processes

  • Autonomous production processes use the Cloud services to run virtual process simulations and planning for actual equipment. This process allows ongoing evaluation and improvement of processes and provides data using encrypted communication, all without interfering with the real-time use of the equipment.
  • Multiple OEMs can contribute to the autonomous production processes to optimize the usage and potential of available equipment. Using the autonomous production processes allow the OEMs to evaluate plans and processes without slowing current production, which is cost-effective for the OEM. These processes contribute to the creation of Intelligent Factories.
  • Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies came together to create the vision of autonomous production. Roland Berger began a study in 2019 using autonomous production and discrete manufacturing together, in an effort to achieve a fully autonomous production system. This study is in progress, and results likely will be a catalyst in the continued evolution of this emerging technology.
  • Frost and Sullivan of the Manufacturing Leadership Council predicted factories will continue to improve autonomous production processes over the next 10-15 years, developing high-tech engines and improving the ability to quickly respond to consumer needs and demands.

Improvement in the User Interface to Make Robots “Teachable”

  • Having improvements in the user interface are significant advancements on how robots are customized depending on the application. This impacts the overall cost for OEMs to find or maintain programmers that are familiar with the robotic languages when the need for customization arise.
  • An example approach is being able to “teach” a robot to have the precision for a desired trajectory by just grabbing and moving the robot arm. This way, people without programming knowledge can be able to get the robots running.
  • Yaskawa Motoman made it simpler to commission a robot by integrating an interactive tablet-like touchscreen device called Smart Pendant that can allow users to ergonomically flow through the robot programming. Its feature allows automatic calibration without the need for a high-level knowledge of robotic programming languages.
  • According to Samuel Bouchard, the CEO of Robotiq that manufactures sensors and programming software for Universal Robots, bringing the “element of human touch to robot programming” can enable these robots to easily learn precision (e.g. in packaging) without having to reprogram them.

Research Strategy

The research began with an examination of two sources written by industry leaders. The robotic manufacturing market and surrounding trends were defined as the use of robots in manufacturing and production processes, specifically OEMs seeking innovative ways to improve manufacturing processes to meet market demands. Trends noted in these sources were cross-referenced to identify trends appearing in multiple sources. We searched for articles identifying trends via sites such as Market Watch, BCG, and Robotics and Automation News. We found the trends such as discrete event simulation, autonomous production processes, and improvement in the user interface to make robots “teachable” to be recurring themes in predictions of future developments. Multiple sources linked these trends, demonstrating stronger future growth when using multiple trends to meet common goals.

Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

Innovations in Natural and Manufactured Stone for Home Building/Furnishing Materials

Previous article

Communicating Sustainability Digitally for Fast Moving Consumer Goods Companies – Case Studies

Next article

You may also like


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.